Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz narrowed his investigation into Bud Light on Monday by aiming to clarify an ad agency’s involvement with transgender influencer Dylan Mulvaney’s Instagram posts for the beer company.
The Daily Caller first obtained a copy of the letter to Captiv8 regarding their involvement in Mulvaney’s February 11th and April 1st Instagram posts for Bud Light. Captiv8 is a leading digital ad agency for influencer marketing. In the letter, Cruz calls for answers over Captiv8’s role in the Bud Light-Mulvaney partnership and specifically what Captiv8’s involvement was in Mulvaney’s February 11th Super Bowl post.
On February 11, 2023, Mulvaney posted a video on Instagram with the caption #budlightpartner. The video showed Mulvaney dancing in a bathtub with an open can of Bud Light and a stack of Bud Light cans in the background.
“In May, I initiated a congressional investigation into whether Anheuser-Busch’s marketing partnership with social media influencer Dylan Mulvaney violated beer industry prohibitions on marketing to minors. At my request, the beer industry’s internal Code Compliance Review Board (‘CCRB’) examined Mulvaney’s February 11th and April 1st posts on behalf of Bud Light for potential violations of the industry’s Advertising and Marketing Code. Ultimately, dissenting CCRB Judge Paul Summers agreed that Anheuser-Busch had violated the Code because it knew or should have known that Mulvaney primarily appeals to persons below the legal drinking age, especially ‘young teens and girls,'” Cruz wrote in the letter.
“Unfortunately, CCRB failed to investigate the origins of the Bud Light-Mulvaney marketing partnership and advanced a misleading narrative about the brewer’s vetting process. Captiv8 is mentioned nowhere in CCRB’s opinion—a significant omission given that your company reportedly ‘brokered’ the deal,” he continued.
READ THE LETTER HERE:
HERE IS WHAT CRUZ ASKS IN THE LETTER:
- What was Captiv8’s role, if any, with respect to Dylan Mulvaney’s February 11th Instagram post promoting Bud Light’s “Hold” ad? Identify any Captiv8 products, services, or solutions used by Anheuser-Busch or its agents to promote the “Hold” ad and explain how each was used.
- What was Captiv8’s role with respect to Dylan Mulvaney’s April 1st Instagram post? Identify any Captiv8 products, services, or solutions used by Anheuser-Busch or its agents to promote the Easy Carry Contest and explain how each was used.
- Captiv8’s platform “allow[s] discoverability for ethnicity, disabilities, and gender and sexual identity.” Relatedly, Captiv8’s Influencer Velocity Index (IVI), an AI-powered talent recommendation engine, enables brands to auto-generate a list of influencers based on targeted audience characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, and age.
- a. Is it possible for an alcohol brand with access to Captiv8’s platform to search for an influencer whose audience includes individuals under the age of 21?
- b. Is it possible for a brand with access to Captiv8’s platform to search for an influencer whose audience is predominantly white?
- c. Is it possible for a brand with access to Captiv8’s platform to search for an influencer of a particular (1) sexual orientation or (2) gender identity?
- Provide all documents or communications, including financial statements, by or for, or sent to or from, any current or former employee of Captiv8 that were created on or after December 1, 2022, and refer or relate to (1) Anheuser-Busch, including Bud Light, or (2) Dylan Mulvaney.
“The failure to age gate meant the advertisement was guaranteed to be seen by Mulvaney’s followers, most of whom are under the age of 21. The lack of a paid partnership label on both Mulvaney posts is especially significant given lingering questions about the timing and scope of the influencer’s work for Bud Light. Anheuser-Busch has implausibly maintained that the company’s partnership with Mulvaney consisted of just ‘one can, one influencer, one post and not a campaign,'” Cruz added.
“‘It was not an advertisement,’ insisted AB InBev CEO Michel Doukeris. Yet Mulvaney appears to have been engaged for two distinct, sports-related campaigns during the Super Bowl and March Madness. The question is, if Captiv8 was enlisted in March, what role could it have had with respect to Mulvaney’s initial, February 11th post?”
Bud Light has faced heavy criticism and lost its spot as America’s top-selling beer in early June due to a boycott that began after Mulvaney showed off a personalized beer can featuring his face. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Leaked Social Media Pics From Bud Light Ad Exec Who Slammed ‘Fratty’ Culture Seem Pretty Fratty)
Bud Light also released a can featuring a rainbow design and the words “celebrate everyone’s identity,” with different pronouns printed on the bottle. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: SOURCE: Top Anheuser-Busch Marketing Executives Responsible For Boycott Are No Longer Employed)
Cruz called for answers to his questions by no later than December 4.